My end of term report
This article was first published Inside Croydon in July 2013 and can be found here:
It is eight months since the Croydon North by-election, where local people chose me as their new Member of Parliament. In my maiden speech, I spoke up for Croydon’s forgotten riot victims.
Sitting in the public gallery was a couple who were left penniless after their business was burnt down, and a young mum who was denied help after a mob her flat ablaze and destroyed everything she owned. The Prime Minister and Mayor of London were quick to offer support the day after the riots when the TV cameras were on them, but they forgot their promises when the media went away.
There were more broken promises when London’s Tory Mayor announced plans to close down every police station in Croydon North and leave our borough with fewer police officers than the inadequate number we had immediately after the riots. I asked Croydon’s Conservative-controlled council to join me in a cross-party campaign for the borough’s police, but instead the Tories were silent, despite plans that will see Croydon treated less fairly than comparable outer London boroughs.
The No1 issue during the by-election last November was jobs. Croydon North has far higher levels of long-term youth unemployment than any neighbouring area thanks to the Government’s failed economic policies. I delivered my pledge to host a jobs fair for Croydon North with a hugely successful event at Croydon College in June. More than 20 businesses came along offering jobs, apprenticeships and work experience to more than 150 young unemployed people.
At the same time I brought together community and business leaders in a jobs summit to find new ways to get people back to work. I was disappointed our Tory-controlled council didn’t bother to turn up, despite booking a stand.
I hold regular town centre meetings, with great turnouts so far in Thornton Heath, Selhurst, Upper Norwood and Broad Green, where hundreds of residents have come to tell me about their concerns. I’ve opened school fetes like the one at St James the Great Primary School, done walkabouts with residents like the one last weekend in the Crystal Palace Triangle, and visited churches, mosques and temples across the whole area.
I’m grateful to the fantastic team in my London Road office who help hundreds of individual residents with problems ranging from immigration to housing and street cleaning.
I published research to put an end to the rip-off fees that rogue lettings agents charge tenants in Croydon.
I’ve campaigned for justice for Olaseni Lewis, a 23-year-old graduate from Thornton Heath who died after being subjected to severe restraint by police in a mental health hospital.
I’ve opposed our Tory council’s decision hike Council Tax after refusing Government funding to freeze it, and questioned why they refuse to empty the bins weekly when the Government has offered to pay the cost of doing it. This summer I’ll launch an independent commission the state of the streets after hundreds of people contacted me to complain about the Council’s failure to clean the streets properly or take action against fly-tipping.
It’s been a busy time and there’s plenty to do to improve life for local people, but every day I feel honoured that the wonderful people of Croydon North put their trust in me to be their MP, and I intend to repay that trust by working as hard as I can on their behalf.